Fuchsia, a scratch-made operating system that some Google employees started building in 2016, is picking up steam within the company. Bloomberg reports that more than 100 engineers are now working on Fuchsia, and CEO Sundar Pichai has shown internal support for the project. If all goes to plan, the operating system could launch on connected devices such as smart speakers within a few years, and could replace Android within five years.
Why bother? As I wrote in 2016, Fuchsia is an attempt to create a truly modern operating system without the baggage of Linux, on which Android is based. On small-scale connected devices (like thermostats, connected cameras, and so on), it would require less code and would, therefore, be less prone to security vulnerabilities. On phones and computers, it could allow for faster updates and may avoid intellectual property disputes, like the one that’s dragged on for years between Google and Oracle over Android.
Still, Bloomberg cautions that Google’s leadership hasn’t committed to a roadmap for Fuchsia, and its engineers have reportedly clashed with Google’s ad team over privacy features, which might allow users to curb the data collection that Google’s business depends on. One source described Fuchsia as merely a way to hold the attention of senior engineers, who might otherwise defect to other companies for new technical challenges. And even if Google does bet on Fuchsia, replacing the existing Android ecosystem will be a slog.